Homemade Dishwasher Soap (Not Detergent)

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

In my seemingly never-ending pursuit of an acceptable HOMEMADE version of something to clean dishes in the dishwasher…I think I may have finally hit on something GOOD! I’m personally pretty excited…but I’m kinda weird that way. lol.

Yesterday I decided to do a little more research on this subject because I’ve had several people ask recently about a LIQUID dishwasher detergent option. After reading THOUSANDS of websites/blogs and MILLIONS of comments (well it SEEMED like it!)…I still have not found an acceptable homemade liquid version. Yet.

BUT….while I was reading the MILLIONS of comments I came across a “dishwasher recipe” by someone named Babsy that intrigued me enough to give it a try. (thenewhomemaker.com)

It’s not a RECIPE per se (because you don’t need to mix it up beforehand)…but a combination of liquid soap and oxygen bleach, with a vinegar chaser as a rinse aid. Babsy said she used liquid castile soap as the soap part of this recipe…but I tried that and while the dishes/glasses LOOKED pretty clean…there was still a powdery film on them.

I almost gave up at that point….but decided to try the method one more time, this time using Dawn Dish Soap. I was actually a little afraid to open the dishwasher when it was finished because I didn’t think my heart could take another disappointment, but this time I was TICKLED PINK with what I found! All the dishes appeared to be CLEAN, CLEAR and FILM FREE!

Here are some pictures I took to TRY and show the sparkly-ness of the glasses:

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Here is the “recipe” I used:

  • 1 teaspoon oxygen bleach (I bought a 5 lb bucket of SUN brand at the Dollar store for about $3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dawn dish soap
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar (poured into a bowl or cup on the top rack of the machine)

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

The nice thing about this is there is no need to mix up a big batch…so there are no clumping/hardening issues to deal with. All you need is a teaspoon to add the oxygen bleach to the dispenser and then you can add the Dawn directly from the squeeze bottle (just eyeball it).

Finally, find a small container that can sit upright in the top basket and fill it with 1/2 cup vinegar. I have been using vinegar as a rinse aid for a long time…but I usually just pour it into the bottom of the dishwasher when I start it up. By putting the vinegar in a bowl or cup, it will overfill as the cycles goes on, and the diluted vinegar will be evenly dispersed throughout the dishwasher.

I know that MANY people put vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser…but I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked for me.

A word of caution: Don’t use MORE than 1/2 teaspoon of the Dawn dish soap or you could have a sudsy overflow on your hands. That being said, if you peek in the dishwasher during the wash cycle…you WILL see a fair amount of suds. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just “washing” your dishes! It will be gone when the cycle ends.

In conclusion….I realize that this homemade dishwasher cleaning stuff is tricky business! What worked for me may not work for you! But hey…it MIGHT….and if you’re interested….now you know how. :-)


DIY Dishwasher Detergent

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  1. Anonymous says

    I've been using just Dawn in my dishwasher for some time and Jet Dry for the rinse. Dawn works great & doesn't leave the film that the dishwasher stuff does. I'm going to try the Oxi add-in and see what happens. Thanks!

  2. Beckie says

    I'm going to try the vinegar in a cup…I've been putting it in the dispenser and it wasn't doing a thing.

  3. Becky in South Carolina says

    I'm like a crack head! I rush every morning to get my cup of coffee (while my laptop boots up) and get my homemaking assignment for the day! Your blog has helped me to enjoy my home again! Thank you, Jillee!

  4. Jill Nystul says

    Anony…here is a link that explains the difference between soap and detergent. It's short and to the point. :-)

    Basically, soap is made from natural ingredients and detergent is made from synthetic (man-made) ingredients. However, even though it sounds like a no-brainer, soap can mix with the minerals in water and leave a film…that's why typically we wash our clothes with detergent…to keep them from from turning grayish. Hope this helps….a little. :-) I'm still learning…

  5. Anonymous says

    Thank you for including a print friendly button. With all that is going on with Tide your solutions are the best. Thanks again for all your hard work to find the best formula for us to use.

  6. Anonymous says

    Why do you specifically say soap (not detergent)? Is detergent supposed to have more scrubbing power? I rinse my dishes thoroughly before they go in.

  7. Lakesha says

    Dawn and Vinegar is always an awesome thing! Adding the oxygen bleach just made it better. thx for this!!

  8. Carmen says

    I notice that most home solutions use Dawn – is there really a difference in their formula that makes it better than Ajax or Palmolive or any other brand? Love your blog!

    • Cydne says

      No. Once upon a time, Dawn cut grease better. Now, not really a difference. I use Palmolive Pure + Clean because it has a nice light smell. Works just fine.

  9. Anonymous says

    Perfect timing Jill! I was just about to use a hammer on the major clumps from my last batch of powdered homemade dishwasher detergent! I really look forward to using this Oh-So-Easy solution!!!

    Thanks again!!!

    • Kim says

      My hubby used a drill on our rock hard homemade dishwaher detergent! :) This sounds like a great option!

    • Leah says

      DO NOT TRY THIS! I have just tried it and I have had a HUGE leak all over my very expensive laminate flooring costing me hundreds of pounds to put right! You’re NOT supposed to out dish washing liquid in a dishwasher you dunce! I should have known. Beware! The suds escape the machine and go everywhere!

      • Brenda Malone says

        I agree with Leah. I live in an apartment and there are notices sent once a month about NOT using dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher. But if it works for you, good. But I will NEVER try it.

      • Samantha says

        Actually you can use dish soap like Dawn in an automatic dishwasher. If you read the ingredients of some of them, such as the cascade packs, they have dawn dish soap in it.

      • Sam says

        They may have Dawn in the pack, but it will be a low or no suds formula, not the same stuff you get in the store.

      • Christie says

        Name calling, how mature. How old ARE you?
        She literally said, “In conclusion….I realize that this homemade dishwasher cleaning stuff is tricky business! What worked for me may not work for you! But hey…it MIGHT….and if you’re interested….now you know how. :-)”
        “A word of caution. Don’t use MORE than 1/2 teaspoon of the Dawn dish soap or you could have a sudsy overflowon your hands.”

        Some peoples children….smh.

      • Natasha says

        I love how the author is the dunce because YOU tried her recipe and it ruined YOUR “expensive floor” before doing research yourself first even though you apparently knew that you’re not suppose to use dish dawn in a dish washer. Everyone has to blame someone other than themselves for their own mistakes.

      • says

        I’ve been using Dawn in my dishwasher for over a year now (using Jillee’s older version of dishwasher soap). I’ve never had an issue of over flowing :)

      • Stephanie says

        First off that is not a nice name to call any one. Second you probably have put to much soap in. I have an apartment sized dishwasher (smaller then a normal one) and it worked fine for me.

      • says

        That’s too bad leah I shortened this recipe to about one drop of dawn because it’s too sudsy! And my dishes were sparkling! However my local dollar store sells dawn and on the back of the bottle it says to not put into dishwasher!


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